I have spent my Sunday afternoon re-reading Labour’s election manifesto. Not because I have to – it’s been quite a few years now since I worked on an election campaign – but because it’s just bloody brilliant. Most inspiring of all is simply that Labour has listened to the clarion call that we are in a climate emergency, looked seriously at the science-based targets that need to be achieved to avert climate breakdown, and then actually committed to a set of actions that will deliver them, with most of the toughest stuff pledged to happen in the first term of a Labour government, not vaguely promised for the long-distant future.
During a London Climate Week event at Chatham House* last week an audience member asked the panel of which I was a member “How are we going to make people pay for climate action?” Given that the questioner had introduced herself as representing the oil company, Shell, my flippant response was that I knew where to start – by taxing those who have done the most to cause a climate crisis, namely fossil fuel companies like Shell. In fact we should tax them out of business, because companies that continue to put short term profit before the continued existence of the human race don’t have a place in a climate-safe world.
Today and for the rest of the week normal business in London will be disrupted by Extinction Rebellion protestors trying to rouse their fellow citizens to face the climate emergency into which we have sleep-walked. Their tactics aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if shutting down a few streets is what it takes to draw attention to the fact that we are now in a battle against the clock to prevent the (still entirely avoidable) destruction of the eco-system that makes possible human life on Earth, then that seems like an entirely rational response to me.